Florence Colliery, Longton, North Staffordshire, was originally named after the eldest daughter of the owner, the Duke of Sutherland. The pit was opened in 1874 and was worked until 1990. Three shafts were sunk from 1874 to 1916.
Extracts from the reports of the manager of the colliery showing modernization of the pit were as follows:-
November 1898. The signals now in use are the old ones, being a single line in the shaft connected with a hammer at the top. When the line was pulled, it raised the hammer and when released the hammer struck an old railway truck bumper to give an audible signal. It has been decided to replace these with electric signals.
February 10th 1899. A start was made and although the work is in a very unfinished condition the bulk of the yard seam output has been screened daily since. Experiments have been made with mesh plates in order to make the best of the coal and slack, at the same time as far as possible meeting the wishes of the company`s customers.
June 1899. It has now become necessary to face the question of laying down machinery for transmitting power for lighting, pumping and haulage. The writer has given the matter very careful attention and he has come to the conclusion that the only method worthy of consideration in this case is to apply electricity, especially when it is apparent that coal cutting by machinery will have to be faced in the near future.
March 1901. I would respectfully urge the board to allow the Managing Director and myself to negotiate for the purchase of a coal washery. There would then be no difficulty in selling all the Moss and Yard slack either for house purposes as nuts and briquettes or for mixing the whole lot and selling it as Potter`s Slack which at present prices would yield a very handsome profit.
April 1902. Electric haulage gear has been fixed and put to work in the Moss seam. With the exception of some slight trouble with the clips which have still to be remedied, the plant is working very satisfactorily. Electric signals underground have also been put in, in connection with it.
There was a £7 million major reconstruction scheme from 1950 to 1964, which increased the colliery`s potential from 400,000 tons to nearly one million tons a year.
Under this reorganization No3 shaft was deepened by 230 yards to 960 yards to serve the lower horizons and exploit the much needed coking coals.
At the same time No.1 and 2 shafts were enlarged in diameter and 6000 yards of underground horizon roadways were driven.
The entire surface facilities, including the coal preparation plant were renewed and electrified. In May 1974 the National Coal Board announced that Florence was to merge with its neighbour, Hem Heath colliery, to form a giant mine complex with combined output of two and a half million tons of coal a year.
The scheme, known as the Trentham Project was substantially completed in May 1980, at a cost of about £30 million. The main provisions of the project were:-
1) Two underground roadways to link the two collieries, which are about two miles apart.
2) The driving of a 2837 yards long drift from Hem Heath surface to underground.
3) The building of a new coal preparation plant and rapid loading system at Hem Heath, which is next to the main railway line.
The new coal preparation plant came into operation in the autumn of 1978 and by July 1980 two further phases, an underground link and a new drift had been completed.
All the Florence output was now transported via the drift to the surface at Hem Heath, while the Florence shafts continued to be used for man riding, materials transport and ventilation.
The scheme enabled a large part of the tipping area at Florence to be reclaimed. Some re-grading work had been carried out and 45 acres of spoil was grassed and fenced.
The first 500 sheep were moved onto the land in the spring of 1983 (their droppings acted as fertilizer). Tree planting was also planned to improve the general landscape.
Florence colliery produced coal from a number of faces in various seams, all of them Advanced Technology mining with heavy duty equipment, adjacent control supports and larger cutting discs.
About 80% of the colliery`s output went to power stations, and the rest for industrial and domestic markets.